Police are investigating a suspected cannabis farm after a Sunderland house caught fire.
The blaze, on the corner of Cooper Street and Horatio Street in Roker, was discovered by two passers-by at 5.30am today.
Four fire engines and an areal ladder platform, police vehicles and ambulances attended the property, which is said to be occupied, but empty at the time.
An elderly woman in an adjoining property was rescued by passers-by and was checked over by paramedics. She did not need hospital treatment.
A Northumbria Police spokeswoman said: “At 5.46am this morning police were informed about a fire on the corner of Cooper Street and Horatio Street in Sunderland.
“It’s not believed anyone was in the property at the time and no-one has been seriously injured. Initial enquiries suggest there may be a cannabis farm inside.”
Watch manager Jez Hilton, from Sunderland Central Fire Station said: “The whole street was thick with smoke
It was quite a well-developed fire in the loft.
“We forced entry from the ground floor.
“We had two breathing apparatus wearers, two hose reels and a positive pressure ventilation fan.
“We deployed something called a Cobra, which uses very fine molecules of water which can penetrate brick and metal.
“We used that through the first floor ceiling.
“We carried out the main operation from outside and had two jets – one at the front and one at the back.”
Three hours later, fire personnel were still dampening down hot spots in the roof of the stricken property.
Mr Hilton said fire investigators were on their way, along with scenes of crime officers. The cause of the fire is yet to be investigated.
He added: “It is an occupied property which was empty at the time.
“The main fire was restricted to the roof space, but there is some fire damage to the first floor ceiling.”